“The construction industry has certainly already won Olympic gold. The victory lap must be long and visible”
As prime minister David Cameron pointed out last week, the construction industry’s successful preparation of venues and infrastructure ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games provides “a lot for us to learn nationally and a lot for us to sell internationally”.
His mission, he explained, was for the nation to emulate the 1851 Festival of Britain and “turn these Games into gold for Britain” as we “sell Britain to the world”. It is a mission that must also be adopted, aggressively, by the entire construction industry.
As NCE’s special report on the 2012 Games this week demonstrates, the prime minister is correct to highlight the transformation of the once derelict and contaminated site in Stratford and other sites in the UK as a “remarkable construction and organisational feat”.
A huge amount of this extraordinary achievement is the direct result of UK engineering innovation and ambition. From the high profile iconic venues, temporary structures and landscaping through to the project management, logistic and transport planning, professional engineers have made it happen.
The result is a quality job that will underpin the legacy to create jobs and change lives in Stratford and across the rest of the UK.
Much has been written and discussed about return on investment for the £9bn Olympic price tag. But Cameron was rightly upbeat about the potential for the UK economy to derive over £13bn - perhaps even £16.5bn - over the next four years from these Games.
Which makes it critical that, as an industry and a nation, we maximise our post Games benefits. Hence the need to act upon the recommendations of Olympic Delivery Authority chairman Sir John Armitt’s report calling for Olympic marketing rules to be relaxed.
On that basis it was good to hear the prime minister pledge to work to make it easier for UK firms to market their success. Hopefully the International Olympic Committee can be persuaded to adopt a more flexible approach to Games related marketing but regardless, the industry must seize this opportunity.
That will probably mean thinking hard and laterally. Having signed up to draconian contracts in which firms waive any rights to promote their involvement in the Games, they should not throw in the towel completely.
No one is going to stop you, for example, quietly explaining to your clients, over a cup of coffee, what you have done for London 2012 and how it means you can help them in future.
London 2012 is genuinely a once in a lifetime event. Personally, as a London resident, the sight of Olympic lanes being marked out and locations being dressed is hugely exciting.
But wherever you live or what your involvement, it must also be a once in a lifetime opportunity to show off the UK’s expertise.
While it won’t add directly to Team GB’s medal tally, the construction industry has certainly already won Olympic gold. The victory lap must be long and visible.
- Antony Oliver is NCE’s editor